Two New England shipyards will pay a total of $410,000 in penalties to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they violated federal environmental laws.
Rose’s Oil Service, a shipyard and fuel oil distributor in Gloucester, MA, will pay $130,000 to resolve claims that it violated federal water and oil pollution prevention laws.
EPA says the company discharged pressure-wash water and stormwater without authorization under the Clean Water Act. It also failed to prepare a Facility Response Plan and adequate Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan in violation of federal oil pollution regulations, EPA said.
Owner Decries ‘Lack of Outreach’
Company owner Frank Rose said that the citations related to recent stormwater and boat-wash run-off, treatment and disposal rules that he had not known about.
The company builds and repairs vessels and performs pressure washing, sanding, painting, metal working, welding and machining. Rose Marine, a companion firm at the same address, provides marine maintenance and repair service.
“Literally at one point in time, it became illegal for oil to run across our property,” Rose said in an interview Friday. “Now, ignorance of the law is no excuse. On the other hand, it would have been nice at one point to receive a memo, to receive an initial visit saying, ‘Hey Mr. Rose, this is what you need to do [to comply now].’”
He criticized EPA for “lack of outreach” and “lack of resources” to communicate new standards and requirements to business owners.
He said his longtime business consultant had been unaware of the rules and so were a number of colleagues. He learned of the requirements only after a surprise inspection in November 2008.
“I called 12 people in the industry, and only three knew about it—and they’d all been visited by EPA.”
He added: “Some of it breaks down to a different interpretation [of rules] with the EPA. And the EPA is never wrong.”
Rose said he supported strong environmental laws and, in fact, had already purchased the required equipment when he was inspected, but had been waiting for his winter slowdown to install it. And EPA confirms that the company “promptly” came into complete compliance after the initial visit.
$200K+ in Costs
In addition to the $130,000 fine, Rose said he had spent more than $200,000 on the case in the last two years. He managed, he said, not to lay off any of his 37 employees during that time.
Meanwhile, he said, many competitors remain out of compliance on the same rules, leading him to question EPA’s manner of enforcement. Spot enforcement puts him at a competitive disadvantage, he said, because he now needs to charge more to cover his compliance costs.
“It’s not a big problem doing things differently,” he said. “But you need to be told. It should be more of a helping-type situation. It’s a very negative way to do business. It’s worse than unbelievably draining.
“It was a kick in the pants when rainwater became a violation.”
Promet Marine Services, of Providence, RI, will pay $290,000 to settle claims that it violated federal clean air and clean water laws. The company provides pressure washing, painting, abrasive blasting and other marine services. According to EPA, Promet’s use of paints exceeded Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) limits of the Clean Air Act.
Joel H. Cohen, Promet Marine Services vice president, said the company would have no comment on the case.
Promet violated the Clean Water Act through the unauthorized discharge of contaminated pressure-wash water into the Providence River, where the shipyard has a 1,000-foot frontage, EPA said. In addition, it said, paint used by Promet emitted excess levels of HAPs and VOCs.
“Facilities that repair and maintain marine vessels have the potential for a number of harmful impacts to human health and the environment,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, said in a prepared statement.
Promet is now using paints that comply with regulatory limits, has applied for required air permits, and has a process water recycling system at its facility to eliminate illegal discharges of copper, lead, zinc and solids in pressure wash water, EPA said.
“It’s very important that facilities understand and follow measures designed to protect the health of our citizens and the environment that sustains us,” Spalding said. “I am pleased these companies have now taken a number of actions to improve their environmental compliance.”